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3 spectacular discoveries about Gia Long tomb that most travelers missed

Gia Long Tomb boasts outstanding natural beauty

Situated on the slopes of Thiên Thọ Mount, the largest of the area’s 42 hills, facing south-southwest, the complex is considered a masterpiece of nature-integrated architecture. Moreover, it stands as the only royal tomb pre-designed as a double tomb, symbolizing the profound love between Emperor Gia Long and Empress Thừa Thiên.

Gia Long Tomb serves as a model for the extravagant burial monuments of his successors.

Departing from the traditional concentric rectangular single design, Emperor Gia Long introduced a concept favoring a larger complex with three distinct areas: the Temple Area, the Tomb Area, and the Stele House. This foundational design would later influence the mausoleums of Gia Long’s successors.

The mausoleum complex incorporates many tombs and temples of King Gia Long and royal family members. Photo by Hieu Truong, Saigontimes magazine.

The compound embraces a “regenerative” worldview

The master design incorporated villages, rice paddies, and reservoirs through a waterway connected to the Perfume River. The sacred space of the King’s tomb is harmoniously united with agriculture and the common people, reflecting the worldview of the “Son of Heaven.” This perspective aligns with the holistic approach needed for resilient, sustainable development today, with a focus on preserving the complex centered on the local people, particularly the villagers of Định Môn.

Guests learn about his life and worldview through a fisheye ancient map.

Directions to Gia Long tomb

Gia Long Tomb is located approximately 19km from the center of Hue (e.g., from Trường Tiền Bridge). As the first and foremost emperor resting place in the western mountains of Hue, lying by the Ta Trach River, it offers a serene retreat. For those seeking tranquility, nature, and authenticity, this complex provides an immersive experience into the reflections of the past, present, and future.

Access Gia Long Tomb by car, and consider combining the visit with Minh Mang Tomb, which is 7km away (closer to city center). While a boat trip is possible, it may take around 3 hours from the city center and can be rather expensive. In the early 20th century, scholar Pham Quynh undertook an overnight rowing sampan journey from Hue at 8 pm the evening before, arriving at Gia Long Tomb by mid-morning, a poetic example of slow travel.

Beautifully restored shrine architecture, immersed in the serene natural surrounding

Best way to explore Gia Long tomb and beyond

Slow Travel Hue has passionately crafted a full-day immersion into the upstream of the Perfume River, intentionally integrating Man with Nature. Participants will delve into the foundation of the Nguyen Dynasty, experience peace and solemnity at Gia Long Tomb, touch the source of Hue’s ecological landscape, and reconnect with nature through foraging for natural herbal and medicinal plants.

Off-the-beaten track cycling to explore Gia Long tomb and the upstream Perfume River non-touristy area.

The most thrilling experience involves crossing Ta Trach River, a tributary of the Perfume River, on a makeshift bridge. Depending on your ability, you can cycle a loop of 20-25km or choose a shorter route, or ride pillion on a motorbike. The pine and bamboo shaded lanes are so soothing and make it pleasant for all ages. The primary goal is to fully expose the scenic landscape and rejuvenate wellness in nature. After visiting Gia Long Tomb, the journey continues to the green pomelo village, which was once an untouchable war zone. Here, participants can enjoy a healthy lunch at a herbal farm, explore more about wild medicinal plants and their usage, and relax and swim in the source river if interested.

The cycling is tailored to suit all level. Check out the tour “Wellness in Nature Exploration

Sustainability, Happiness, Nature

Our mascot is a humanised turtle wearing a heart shaped shell, travelling slowly and happily. The head leans on Sustainability to promote a “tourism that respects both local people and the traveler, cultural heritage and the environment”. Our heart shares Happiness or “Fulfilling in connecting”. Our hands embrace Nature to provide eco-friendly services.

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